It’s been a bit quite around these parts lately

Superfriends Wonder Woman Invisible Plane

And for that I apologise, I’ve been busy with other more my career as a game designer type stuff the past couple of weeks so the comic books stuff has fallen by the wayside a tad. Also as I keep saying this site is going through a bit of a transition as I get to grips with managing it and my other commitments. I’m trimming and squeezing things down to their base essence not just for my convenience but for your reading pleasure too.

So for now just bare with me a bit and enjoy the Awesomeness of the Week posts as and when they pop up. In a couple of weeks I will be bringing back the Picks of the Week posts in a slightly altered form. More short review snippets, less detailed analysis. It means I will be able to recommend more comics at a quicker pace while still giving some of my thoughts and opinons. But what about that detailed rambling you love so much? Well that is still going to be on here but in a more focused way. The plan is every now and then I will sit down and review a whole story-arc, series, single issue, etc. in my more detailed way. It may mean that reviews and such wont be as relevant as when the issues originally came out but it means I can sit down and really look at and think about the comic in question. Allowing me to look at the whole story rather than just a piece and all that.

I have also got a backlog of Marvel Ultimate Graphic Novel and DC Classics Reviews piling up which I am planning to tackle once I get back from my latest round of travels. Which is the other reason for this post: I will be disappearing for a week or so to head to Seattle to visit 343 Industries, their the folks who make those Halo games now that Bungie are off doing their own thing again. I’m going to try and get one or two things queued up for while I am away but no promises!

Thanks for your patience and keep reading comic books!

– Callum

Awesomeness of the Week!

Marvel Ultimate Graphic Novel Reviews

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Marvels (Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross)

I went into Marvels with a lot of excitement. It is one of those books that has been on my To Read… list since I first saw an oversized release of it propped up against a wall in Waterstone’s on Deansgate in Manchester when I was youngling. It is a comic that always stands out when compared to everything else out there. Alex Ross’s realistic painted art is something else and it fits the concept of telling the history of the Marvel Universe from the point of view of a regular guy perfectly. You feel like you are there in the moment as it is all happening. It has an epic quality to it that shows the key moments it focuses on in a grand scale while still managing to keep it all grounded in the very human story of Phil Sheldon’s career of following superheroes emphatically.

Also out of all the books that make up the Marvel Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection that I have read this is by far the best volume that has been compiled. It is packed full of extra features! The back section usually dedicated to writer and artist profiles is full of images and the details of Ross’ workflow. Then during the reading itself you have commentary from the key creators of the book and of course a wonderful forward from the man himself, Stan Lee. It is a selection of features that puts the rest of the collection to shame.

It is a true gem to experience.

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Awesomeness of the Week

I am starting to get busier outside of writing posts for this little comics blog so in order to streamline things a bit I am smashing together Panels and Covers of the Week into one post of awesome!

So here are the things that took my fancy this week:

FTDiesALot Livecast: What to look forward to in 2013

The FTDiesALot crew sits down to have a chat about what they are most excited about in the coming year!

Covering:

  • Movies
  • Videos Games
  • Comic Books
  • And many, many tangents!

Please head to our YouTube Channel, FTDiesALot to see our other live broadcasts and videos.

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Covers of the Week

Superior Spider-Man #1
Superior Spider-Man #1

(Ryan Stegman) [Nessim Higson – Logo Design]

The start of a new era and that means a shiny new logo! The Superior logo is a bit different from what we are used to seeing for Spider-Man but it is certainly a very modern design that makes it stand apart from the older stylings of the Amazing logo. As for Stegman’s cover art itself we get a good demonstration of his skills and the book’s emphasis on being “dark and weird.” Spidey is always a good character for dramatic and moddy covers and this is one of the best moody ones I have seen in a long time.

The Phantom Stranger #4

The Phantom Stranger #4(Jae Lee & June Chung)

I’m a fan of Jae Lee’s more stylish realism. It oozes detail and stands out from pretty much every other artist out there. So while his Constantine may be a bit to youthful looking for my tastes this simplistic cover stands out from the crowd and looks really cool to boot!

Panels of the Week

Here’s the things that grabbed my attention this week:

DC Comics Classics Reviews

Batman HushBatman: Hush (Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee)

Hush is a Batman story that holds a special place in my heart. It is both the first major Batman and DC Comic that I read. Up until I picked up a copy of the first volume of the two part trade I had only dabbled in DC Comics. The odd random issue when I came across it and highly regarded Elseworlds tales where the only things from DC that I had read up to the point of buying and reading Hush. I was a Spider-Man and Marvel guy and my journey with DC was a slow one to begin with. When I look back on this time now I laugh because after reading Hush things quickly snowballed for me and I became a DC fanboy. I still love Marvel a lot (especially Spidey! I LOVE that guy!) and it is my first love but DC just fits with my tastes better on the whole I find. Something which on closer inspection has always been the case when you take into account the DC animation and film adaptations that filled my tv viewing when I was a kid.

Hush is an amazing Batman story that serves as both a gripping yarn and a brilliant introduction into the comic book adventures of the Caped Crusader. It is one of those comics I recommend to anyone who is looking at getting into comic books and it is a story that I keep going back to an re-reading every couple of years. Always finding something new from a throwaway piece of dialogue from Loeb that speaks volumes about a character to Jim Lee’s pitch perfect art that just makes the book a joy to read. It all works to make a damn fine comic.

Another thing worth noting about Hush is that it is the first comic were I made a mental note of who the writer and artist were so I could check out their other work. It began that snowball of getting really into comics and the people who make them. From this twelve issue story I was lead to other DC comics and storylines such as Superman: For Tomorrow, Batman: The Long Halloween, Superman/Batman and many more. It made my comic book reading life richer and more detailed not just on the DC side of things but on the Marvel side and beyond too.

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Marvel Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection Reviews

Captain America: The New Deal

Captain America: The New Deal (John Ney Rieber & John Cassaday)

The New Deal is a different Captain America comic from the norm. This is because of the hows and whys of it being made. What initially started as a grim and gritty Marvel Knights relaunch of the book turned into the first post 9/11 Cap comic once the horrific events of that day in 2001 took place. So instead of being a new and darker take and a well known character suddenly writer, John Ney Rieber found himself with the task of giving us Steve Roger’s reaction to the attacks, how it changed him and as a result America. A very daunting task indeed.

What we end up with is a very interesting comic that kicked-off the more politically aware Captain America of the modern age and Marvel as a whole. It could be said that the ground and ideas explored here eventually lead to the gripping run by Ed Brubaker that has only just finished and major Marvel events like Civil War that re-shaped the Marvel Universe and delved into the politics of being a superhero. It is not 100% perfect however and due to the time it came out it is very raw emotionally.

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Amazing Spider-Man #700

Amazing Spider-Man #700

Oh boy this is going to be a weird write up!

Amazing Spider-Man #700 is perhaps one of the most talked about and divisive comics of 2012 (it managed to come out at the last possible moment of 2012 on Boxing Day). It is equal parts an ending to one of the most beloved comic series and the beginning of the next act of the never ending epic that is the life and times of Spider-Man. The weeks up to release saw rampant speculation and the collective gnashing of teeth from the Spidey faithful. Leaks happend and people preemptively lost their shit over it. The buzz was building to a fever pitch and it was both interesting and horrifying to watch at the same time. I am just glad it happened over Christmas so that I was far to busy with family and celebrations to have it spoiled for me before the 26th.

The mantra I kept repeating to people before I read the issue was, “In Dan Slott we trust.” Now after the event that mantra remains the same because despite the pervading opinion of who I am now calling The Insane Internet Mob (or TIIM for short) the issue is actually a really good read that hit me in the gut as a life long Spidey fan. It also homes in on something I love about comic books but that in reality very rarely happens due to TIIM’s reaction to it: CHANGE. The want, need, effect, repercussions and temporary nature of it.

So let us take a look at Amazing Spider-Man #700 looking at why it a good comic and a great Spidey story in the making.

WARNING though, there will be SPOILERS!

[Note: For clarification, Ock-Spidey is Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker’s body and Spidey-Ock is Peter Parker in Doctor Octopus’ body]

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